Pollution and Environmental degradation caused by oil and other natural resources extraction companies operating in Nigeria’s Niger Delta and other parts of Africa have displaced families, villages, and hamlets—preventing them from sustaining their livelihood, as they can no longer farm their lands, drink their waters, fish their waters, or even breath God’s free air without inhaling hydrocarbon chemicals!
Many of these people have not been compensated for their loss—even though, in reality, no amount of compensation can truly suffice! For those who have been “compensated” for their lands, properties, and perennial loss of livelihood, the compensation is so small that it is merely a “token,” a temporary fix to what has now been cast to be a life-long struggle for survival, as their problems are bound to linger long after the money given to them has been spent. In some cases, the government, the oil companies, the local chiefs collaborate to renegotiate, without the consent of land owners, long-standing contract/agreements between the oil companies and the land owners, causing the land owners to lose everything, including the scholarships and other development projects that the oil companies had promised the communities when the contracts were originally signed.
As a result of not having their usual means of sustenance, these families are no longer able to train their children in school, and those who manage to send their children to school have a hard time keeping them there. The first casualties in this type cutbacks are, of course, girls and the boys who are second and third and fourth child among their siblings. Given the choice between furthering their son’s or daughter’s education, most of these families tend to choose the boy—thus forcing the girl into early marriage and, of course, its accompanied hardships! This is not the type of choice any family should be forced to make in this day and age, as we believe that a girl’s education is as important as a boy’s education, for they both contribute equally to society. At the end of the day, everyone loses. These youths—and those who manage to graduate from college—end up on the streets looking for food, employment, and sometimes getting into troubles or causing mayhem. Despondent, some turn militancy because they see it as their only way out of their predicaments, even though for obvious reasons it is a dead end.
nfortunately, and perhaps understandably, these oil companies refuse to hire these youths and the young graduates because they have neither the skills nor the experiences to do the type of jobs that the oil companies need filling. African Institute of Arts, Science and Technology, Inc, a non-profit institute for research and skills learning, was established to educate and train these youths and unemployed graduates and provide them with the resources to acquire employable skills. Our other objective is to rehabilitate displaced families and devastated homelands by confronting the environmental hazards that now plague these once vibrant communities.